Get your Conversations Visionary Edition 2024 here

Get your Conversations Visionary Edition 2024 here
Click to get your copy of the magazine here.

Friday, March 8, 2013

E. M. Hanley Shows A Different Perspective of Life's Problems Through New Book

by Cyrus Webb

All of us have for problems. What separates us is the way we handle them. This is something that Elizabeth "E. M." Hanley learned firsthand.

A research librarian by profession, she told me that it wasn't too long ago that situations in her life forced her to reevaluate who she was and how she was living. "I ran into a lot problems which made me take a look at my life," she told me. One way she dealt with her problems was by looking for information in books. Over 200 books later she came to an important epiphany. "I was amazed to find out how much power I had over my problems, and I just wasn't using it."

Hanley realized that when it came to problems she was approaching them entirely the wrong way. "I was letting them affect me when I didn't realize how much control I had over them ," she says. "I could affect them and get the outcome I wanted in my life."

The result of this new way of thinking is the bases for the book NO PROBLEM!. When I read it, it allowed me to reinforce the fact that we don't have to be defined or held captive by what we go through. This information in itself was liberating for me as it was for Hanley. "Problems aren't linked to happiness," she explained. "It's how you allow them to affect you." In her research for the book she was able to glean amazing examples and experiences from respected individuals who had addressed the issue of problem-solving. "I felt like a victim to a lot of my problems," Elizabeth explained. "I was letting them control me. What I have learned is that I have the power to turn things around."

She explains this way: "Life might not be fair, but we can be unfair to ourselves by when a problem comes along by making things worse. We handicap ourselves by not knowing the important information that we need that says I can do this. I can handle this."

It all comes to a decision we have to make. "I don't want to live like this," Elizabeth says she told herself. "I should know better."

That decision led her on a journey to gathering information that was easy to understand, including tips on problem solving. What are the four simple tips that guide you to solutions?

1. DEFINE: See it as it is, not worse than it is
2. OWN: Take control and feel the power
3. TRUTH: Face the truth to see solutions
4. BALANCE: Check the bigger picture

In our conversation Elizabeth reminded me of a basic truth. "We're always gong to have problems.," she says. "We have to accept it, deal with it and move on." She says that we have to look at problems as a "little glitch in the road" of our journey. "We forget about the big picture of our life," she says. It's important to remember that we have gotten through difficult times before and we can do it again.

Our words also play a large part in the way our life goes. "So many times we claim things that we don't have to," she says. "It's important to change the course of our lives just by the power of words. What's helpful is to ask questions in a positive light." This means that instead of saying how bad a situation is we should ask questions like "What can I learn from this problem? "What's good with this problem?" The way you talk with yourself is important to finding solutions, and that is the ultimate goal of any trial.

Through NO PROBLEM! Hanley is able to put in our hands the wisdom that we should know but have problems thinking of when the going gets rough. Now we have no excuse. On page 132 of the book she says this: "Each problem is sending you a message about your life. What is it? Find the value of every problem. Learning from a problem will increase your personal power. Write down what you an learn about yourself or your life from this problem. Do you need to be more forgiving, to be more understanding, to be more accepting, to change your attitude to make better choices?"

By answering these questions we can get to a place where like in class problems make us better, stronger and more equipped for what can come our way next.

To find out more about Elizabeth Hanley and her useful resource NO PROBLEM! visit

RIZWAN SAQIB: A Light In The Darkness of Pakistan

by Cyrus Webb

One of the great things about the internet and social media in particular is that it has created a place where individuals are able to come together and network in ways that wouldn't have been possible some ten years ago. That is the case for how I met Rizwan Saqib.

While I was in Mississippi I was able to connect with him in Pakistan thanks to Facebook, and through that site I have gotten to know a man who is committed to doing good and sharing his message of hope and faith. What Rizwan has taught me is that it's not where you serve that it's important. It's who and how you serve that matters.

In this interview we talk about the importance of not judging individuals based on where they live or what they look like and how he is showing others how to make a difference in spite of challenges.

Thank you for taking out the time to talk with us, Rizwan. What made you want to make a difference where you are?
It's my pleasure. Through out my student life, I have performed at many stages which were all organized by decent educated people, who believed that theater can be and must be used for educational purpose. But today, the situation of Pakistani theatre is very bad. The theatre today is being used for non-educational purposes. Therefore people, specially educated people are moving away from theatre. 

It would be so much easier to focus on the bad things and what you don't have. You choose to think positively and to focus on what is possible. Where did that optimism come from?
Being an educated person and a student of religion, I believe in that positive thinking is the only way to succeed in our daily life and in the life after death. Secondly, I believe that it is my will and my desire that can bring a change.

Some people are quick to judge based on color or even where a person lives. What would you say to our readers about the importance of getting to know people and not treating everyone the same based on what they look like or where they come from?
I believe that the heart of a person is like a mirror. It reflects the true image of a person, therefore I believe that we should not judge a person on bases of their colour, but should judge a person from his heart and values.

What do you hope people around the world know about Pakistan and the work that you are doing?
People around the world know less about our theatre; therefore I believe that we can introduce our cultural theatre around the world, in a respected manner, if we educate our people on the subject of educational theatre, especially our youth.

You and I actually met each other online using Facebook. How has that site and others like it helped you in reaching others and spreading the word about what you are doing?
Facebook is a social networking site and like others it has helped me in finding people of my interest. In this way I can convey my message to those people whom I know and whom I don't know.

How can we help and find out more information about what you are doing to make the world where you live a better place?
For more information about me or my organization, you can visit at

(POETRY) "My Truth" by Kira Henderson


I wear a suit of armor
-cold, rigid, steel plates of evasiveness
forged in distance
bolted with fictitious characteristics
Protecting me from false prophets
trying to slay my spirit
and conquer my body like a fallen land

I move quickly to repair dents and punctures
after battling in love's unholy war
Ensuring that defeats
remain only surface deep
and my Queen-dome holds intact

Convinced that what lies beneath my shield of
self perserveness
is a soul frail and weak
torn up inside
and easily broken

When my journey crossed your path
and I raised my sword for battle
I was defeated so quickly
not by burning arrows of lies
or words of mass destruction
you did not launch a thousand ships
to sink my spirit
- you didn't even scratch my protective armor

You simply stripped it away

You came to me as a man
and real

And all of my cold evasiveness and false characters
fell to the floor
leaving nothing for you
except the real me

Shivering in the nakedness of vulnerability
you embraced my truth
and praised it
You handled it with grace
You challenged it
and provoked it to shine

You took the bare me
and showed me my beautiful reflection
in your eyes.

Contact Kira Henderson at You can enjoy more of her work at

Celebrating the BEST of YOU

by Cyrus Webb

With a new year there can be the pressure to change something about yourself in order to be better. That "something" is different for everyone, but I think most agree that you don't want to go into tomorrow the same as you were yesterday.

I have been guilty in the past of trying to set resolutions for myself and my life. I'm not alone in doing it or dealing with the disappointment that comes when you fall short, but I have learned a better way.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't set goals. Goals can be very helpful in getting you to the next level in life. What I am saying is that you can't let what hasn't been attained stop you from appreciating the YOU that exists today and what can still be in the future.

In this issue of Conversations Magazine you have seen how individuals have been able to bring their best self forward. It's not always easy to do--and you might very well be your own worst critic---but being the best you is still the only way to go. Why? Because you were created to be an individual. There is really no one who can take your place, so there is no need to try to meet anyone else's standard when it comes to who you should be.

This took me some time to appreciate, but when I finally go it, my life literally changed forever. I haven't been the same. I approach each and every day thinking of why I am here and what I can do to leave an imprint on the world. That is the only thing we can do. No matter how much we try, we can never be any one but ourselves. Why not make that experience here on earth the best it can be.

Trust me, you will be a better person by doing so.

What is your own personal best? Conversations wants to hear about it! Email me at to share your own story of celebrating the best of who you are. We would love to celebrate with you and share your story with our readers.

Tony Lindsay Presents... Novelist Leon Forrest

There is genre fiction, and there is literary fiction. Within these two categories are groups; in part, genre fiction consists of mystery, romance, science fiction, chick-lit, street-lit, western, thriller, and the list continues to grow. The components of literary fiction are less in number but just as vast in scope: historical, magical realism, stream of consciousness, speculative, allegory, satire, and pastoral. Writers of literary fiction employ tropes or figurative devices in their work that go beyond the popular metaphors or reoccurring similes that are common genre fiction.

Magical realism, perhaps the most demanding category of literary fiction, is used by few writers successfully. One who has succeeded in being considered a magical realist is novelist Leon Forrest.

In his work, Two Wings to Veil My Face, Forrest writes the slave history of an African American family. He weaves the story through two protagonists: a grandson -Nathaniel Witherspoon and Great-Momma Sweetie Reed the grandmother. The masterful story telling begins with the stressful situation of the family at the funeral home to view the deceased grandfather.

In this section of the text, Forrest displays through painstaking imagery the complex relationship between the father-Arthur Witherspoon, the son/grandson, and a self reliant - spirit talking to Great-Momma Sweetie who refuses to attend the grandfather’s, her one hundred and seventeen year old husband, funeral.
Through this couples marriage, which starts when Great-Momma Sweetie is fifteen and Jericho Witherspoon is fifty-five, the reader witnesses slavery after the Civil War, the interdependent relationship of post slavery master and slave, the harsh truth of freedom bringing Union Soldiers, and the fragile lives of women of the era.
What Forrest does through magical realism . . . is make unbearable human situations bearable in the pages of Two Wings to Veil My Face. Relationships between the characters in this novel, in actual life, would have mind shattering repercussions. Only a magical realist can have an abused daughter visit an abuser father on his deathbed seeking solace and understanding. Only a magical realist can cause a reader to accept a barren wife of forty years raising a husband’s child from an adulterous affair. Only a magical realist could cause a reader to believe that a slave broke his master’s back for sleeping with his woman, and another slave healed the master and brought him back to life.

What is unacceptable in reality, through Leon Forrest’s literary craft becomes real in Two Wings to Veil My Face - one Leon Forrest’s five novels.
 There is a Tree More Ancient than Eden (Random House, 1973)
 The Bloodworth Orphans (Random House, 1977)
 Two Wings to Veil My Face (Asphodel, 1984)
 Divine Days (Another Chicago Press, 1992)
 Meteor in the Madhouse (Northwestern University, 2001)

Tony Lindsay is a writer and adjunct professor at Chicago State University. His latest book ONE DEAD DOCTOR was chosen as one of Conversations Top 100 Books of 2012. Lindsay was also voted Conversations Author of the Year 2012-13. He can be reached at or on Facebook at

Recording Artist Jinsu Gives Critics A Reason to Be Mad

by Cyrus Webb

Recording artist Jinsu has a reason to celebrate. The young artist is beginning 2013 with a new single ("Let'em Be Mad" featuring Ne-Yo) and a buzz surrounding him that is sure to keep him going through the year.

"I've been doing music a long time," he told Cyrus Webb during an interview on Conversations LIVE radio show. "It's great to see people respond to it the way they are. Makes me feel good."

Adding to that feeling is the message of the music he is showing. Knowing the trappings that come with life in the spotlight, Jinsu is staying focused on what matters. "I use the naysayers as motivation for my career," he told Webb. "We all are going to have people who talk. We just can't let them stop us."

This is a message that the artist is sharing with his fans as well via social media. "It's great to be able to connect with the fans who I see as my friends. I wouldn't be able to do this without them."

Where Jinsu seems to really come alive is on the stage, and Webb asked him about that experience. "It's something you really can't put into words," he said. "I love the energy and I feed off that. It makes everything else worthwhile."

Look for more great music from Jinsu this year. You can stay in contact with him at or on Youtube at

To You, From Me: Enjoying TODAY

There are so many things in life that we could spend time stressing over: making ends meet, family, our jobs and even just the cares of the day. No matter who we are or where we might live there are so many things that are vying for our time. We can be so concerned with tomorrow that the time we have right now goes by without much consideration.

I'm here to tell you that if that is your life right now it doesn't have to be that way. 

The great thing about the way we were created is that we have the gift of free will. This means we can decide where we want to spend our time and energy. Though you might seem to have the world crumbling around you, I want to challenge you to take out time right now to enjoy the day.

It can be a little thing like going outside, closing your eyes and inhaling. For others it might be just stealing away a moment or two for yourself in a quiet place, thinking about the many things you have to be thankful for. 
The truth is that no matter how bad things might seem we have so many blessings that are bestowed on us each and every day. Our challenge is to not allow the cares of the world to distract us from that which we have right now. 

In this issue of Conversations Magazine we spotlight those taking full advantage of NOW. It's a new year, and a new opportunity to do something amazing. You can change the course of your life just by changing what you choose to think about. That is my challenge to you.

I want to hear what you are doing to enjoy the moment. Email me at or call me at 601.896.5616 to share your thoughts. They might end up in a future issue or on our sister site

Until next time happy reading!

Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief
Conversations Magazine

Kelley McRae: Sharing the Joy of Music with the World

by Cyrus Webb

If you are fortunate you will learn that life is too important and the world too big to just settle for what is around you. To be committed to a dream means that you are willing to sacrifice it all in order to see it come true. That is what recording artist Kelley McRae has done, and the result has been her being able to share her music with the world.

Her new album BRIGHTER THAN THE BLUES showcases not just her vocal ability but the way she is able to tell a story through music. We had a chance to chat about the journey and what she hopes you all take away from the album in our conversation.

KELLEY ON SHARING MUSIC WITH THE WORLD: "It's a privilege to be able to create music and have people respond to it, knowing that it means something in their lives. It's a joy and humbling process. Overall it's been a pretty amazing experience to be able to continue to create music."

KELLEY ON WHAT KEEPS MUSIC AS A CONSTANT FORCE IN HER LIFE: "I think what has kept music as a constant force in my life is that I feel compelled to do it. I found that I had to create and write in order to be happy and find my joy. The thing about the last couple of years is it's been a transition going full steam ahead and sacrificing alot of things in order to do the music. I fell in love with songwriting. What blew me away is that I am obsessed with writing  like nothing else I've done in my life. It's sort of like falling in love with the right person . It just feels like home. Songwriting has always felt like home to me."

KELLEY ON THE LIGHT THAT IS MUSIC: "I definitely think that music has been a light for me. This album (BRIGHTER THAN THE BLUES) is about finding that light in your life and following it. It came out of a journey of trying to create a life in which i could be fully engaged in music and the challenge of being an artist full-time. This journey can bring a lot of challenges and sacrifices but also a wealth of knowledge and experiences. The title track really grew out of that feeling of freedom in pursuing this thing that I love. "

KELLEY'S IDEA OF SUCCESS: "I think when you start out and you're thinking of what it would be to be in the industry, you have a certain hope about what it means to have that career. As you get older in general your ideas of success change into realizing that if you are able to do this thing which you love that in itself is success."

KELLEY FEELINGS ABOUT GRATEFULNESS: "I read a quote recently that said 'Look closely and you will find that people are happy because they are grateful.' For me being grateful for the success that you can put on the resume is one thing but being able to live this full life and getting to see the world is a totally different experience. I think that if you're not appreciating the little things everyday  then you won't be able to appreciate the milestones when they come. I think that life is made of the little things."

Stay in contact with Kelley at The new album BRIGHTER THAN THE BLUES is available wherever you purchase your music online.

Photo credit: b/w photo credit, Shervin Lainez

Jessie Yang: Living Life As A Thank You

by Cyrus Webb

In 2012 I had the great opportunity to be introduced to one of the most grounded and appreciative individuals that I have ever interviewed. Her name is Jessie Yang, and if you've never heard of her than mark my words: she will someone that the entire world knows soon enough. j

Not only is she a model and actress, but Jessie is also using her experiences to coach her growing following in loving themselves and pursuing their passion.

During our conversation she came across as everything that you would hope to be: confident, strong and ready to live each day with gratitude and understanding. Because she seems so sure of herself and her craft I was surprised to discover that it was only in 2012 that she started on the path where I found her. "This is something I am happy doing," she says, and it definitely shows.

Though she revealed that in her life she has had her own share of insecurities and personal demons to fight Jessie learned important lessons that she hopes to share with others. "It's been a gradual process to get to where I am today," she says. "In high school I wasn't always the popular girl or confident during that time." It was when she went to college that the transformation began. "You change a lot (during that time)," she says. "You make new friends, have different experiences and find out who you are. Through those experiences I've learned to love myself just the way I am."

That love for herself has proven to be Jessie's saving grace. It has kept her on the right track and made her stronger. "I think one of the hardest things in life is to stay positive," she says. "You always have haters. There will always be people who will talk about you behind your back. If you let it get to you, you're not going to succeed."

In spite of the negativity that is in the world, Jessie has made it a point to be a positive force, using her growing popularity to inspire others. "When I got my first fan message on social media it was a magical feeling," she told me. "It lets you know that what you have done has inspired someone else to pursue their dreams." Jessie has learned that being in front of the camera is not just about looks. "I'm not just here taking pretty pictures. I'm inspiring others to fulfill their dreams.."

One of the individuals that has inspired Jessie is the talented Tyra Banks. "I love the way she tries to push the boundaries of beauty. To me she's a beautiful person both inside and out. "

The internet and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have been instrumental in aiding Jessie's success. "I think it is a great way to promote yourself and helps you to get your name known really fast," she says. It's also a great way to network and encourage others, too." A form of her encouragement came in this Facebook post: "Faith is believing in something when you don't see any evidence or physical proof. It's like love: you can't see it, but you can feel it." For Jessie the message is if you want to do something you can do it. It's all about believing and watching the hard work pay off.

For those who have doubt, Jessie says this: "How do you know you won't succeed? How do you know it won't work. That's what faith is. It's when you know something. You don't have to have evidence to prove it, but you know it. I love to inspire others, helping them see things in a more positive way."

Jessie Yang wants to live each day as a thank you for the opportunities she has been given. That is the basis for her optimism and willingness to share. "When you see what others have to go through it's a form of support," she says. "It's all about supporting each other. When you see other people going through the same thing it inspires you and motivates you to keep going."

Some shy away from being looked to as a role model. Jessie embraces it. "I do have a passion for the younger generation. I like being a positive influence and getting a positive message out there." As a big sister herself she wants to make sure that others know they have someone rooting for them. "I want young girls to grow up with confidence and optimism. You don't have to look like a certain type just to make someone else happy. You are who you are and that is what matters. Don't give up on yourself. There will be people who love you for you. I do believe it's worth it in the end."

May Jessie's journey inspire you as we go throughout our own lives searching for purpose. There is nothing like realizing that your life matters. It's up to us to live accordingly.

Jessie's website is currently under construction, but in the meantime look for her on Facebook at and on Twitter at

(Gotta Eat, Can't Cook) Instant Homemade Salad Dressing

by Bruce Tretter

This very quick & easy fresh salad dressing requires only 5 ingredients, a teaspoon and a 16-ounce jar with a snug fitting lid. The only salt and sugar in this recipe come from mustard, which therefore makes the dressing low in both sodium and sugar, though please do check the ingredients you use to make sure they comply safely if you are on a sodium and/or sugar restricted diet.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes or less

(to make 16 ounces)

1 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder 1/2 - 1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper 3 Teaspoons Mustard  8 Ounces Vinegar
8 Ounces Olive, Vegetable or Canola Oil


16 Ounce Jar with Lid

1. Add the following to a jar:
 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1⁄2 - 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 teaspoons mustard

2. Pour enough vinegar to fill the jar about half way full.

3. Fill the jar the rest of the way with olive or canola oil making sure to leave enough air space at the top of jar so that the dressing can be shaken.

4. Screw the lid on the jar snuggly so that the jar won’t leak. Hold the jar firmly and securely with two hands, and give the jar a vigorous shake, preferably over the sink in case the jar leaks. Shake for 10-15 seconds until the dressing is uniformly mixed together.

5. Use the dressing on salad as is. Store the remaining dressing in a closed jar for at least 1-2 weeks. Just give it a quick shake when you’re ready to use it again.

Stay in contact with more from Bruce Tretter at


Several months ago, I had one of those moments that make you say WOW. This moment occurred while sitting in a meeting observing two individuals share their apposing perspectives on various intricate issues. Their unresolved conflict was of a serious nature and its’ impact was felt by all in attendance.

Both individuals held strong in their stance and truly believed that they were “right” and the other “wrong”
Having maintained a clear understanding of each perspective, I knew without doubt each shared a responsibility in the conflict, even if each failed to recognize their contribution.

The aftermath challenged me to assess my own perceptions as they pertain to the stance I hold on various issues. In addition, I was inclined to assess the various times I misread, assumed or overreacted based on a false reality.

Many of you reading this issue’s message have been guilty of creating a false since of reality; a reality whose sole evolution was to aid in the maintaining of a distorted sense of self.

As you move into the New Year, I believe it to be vital that you invest in building a relationship with yourself. Set aside selfish time; time that will allow for you to connect with your true self and not a distortion.

I encourage you to pull back layers and reexamine who you truly are. You can start this process with asking yourself the following:
- Who am I?
- Do I truly know the person I proclaim to be?
- Are my words and actions in alignment with my values and beliefs?

It’s amazing how in the mist of ciaos, you can have a WOW moment and be challenged to revisit and challenge the soul of the person you proclaim to be.

                                                                                                                                                                        Love, Peace and Joy,                                                                                                                                                                                       Mary E. Gilder-Author                                                                                                                                                                          

Mary E. Gilder is the author of the award winning novel, A Misrepresentation of Myself. Mary Can be contacted at, or visit her website at

Young Dinero:Staying True to the Grind & Himself

by Cyrus Webb

Over the years I have interviewed hundreds of recording artists on Conversations LIVE the radio show and for Conversations Magazine and few have the drive, determination and passion of Ice Age recording artist Young Dinero.

From the first time I spoke with him you could tell that he was excited not just for the success he was garnering for his music but just to be doing what he loved so much.

In January he released his new mixtape FACE YOUR FEAR, a mixture of tracks that show off his lyrical ability and is definitely to have the listener thinking. When I asked him about the way his career has taken off, Young Dinero was humble in his response. "It's like a blessing," he told me. "It's all about hard work and dedication. I'm just staying focused and trying to make good music."

The seriousness he has for music began some 2 1/2 years ago . "That's when I really began taking music seriously," he says "I wanted the world to hear me and know who I was. I wanted them to get something real and to show that there are some young, smart rappers out there who are doing something positive."

Without a doubt Young Dinero is showing others that you can succeed at your dreams, but it's not just about getting another hit. He wants to give something to those who listen as well. "When I get in the booth I look to create something that others can be motivated by,"he says. And motivating people is something that he does quite well. Either through his Twitter page or videos on Youtube he is never more than a social media site away.

Those fans are not just listening to Young Dinero and following his career. He is listening to them as well, and that has provided it's own inspiration. "When I hear back from the fans it let's me know I am on the right path," he told me. "Because they are hearing it from me they are getting to know who the real Young Dinero is."

Talking about things being "real", when I asked the artist what it was like to be a part of the Ice Age family he told me "it's crazy" and "epic". "I have always been a fan of Mike Jones," Young Dinero told me. "Mike saw my grind," and that grind has led to his being a part of one of the South's most notable record labels.

When asked what advice he has for those artists coming up the ranks or anyone with a dream, Young Dinero says this: "Don't be afraid to be yourself."

Keep up with Young Dinero and his project FACE YOUR FEARS on Twitter at and on Youtube at You can also follow Ice Age on Twitter at and Mike Jones at

Friday, March 1, 2013

Interview the Interviewer: Cyrus Webb

Conversations Media Group President Cyrus Webb was recently interviewed by bestselling author Nichole Bernier for the popular series INTERVIEW THE INTERVIEWER. Read the conversation here:  Interview the Interviewer: Cyrus Webb